Posts Tagged writing

Twitter Tuesdays

I have been on twitter for several years now and have found it a great way to build my own Personal Learning Network (commonly refered to as a PLN).   I have found several people to follow that are also interested in educational technology.  Those connections lead me to new resources to share with you.   Each Tuesday this year I want to share some of those resources with you along with the original tweet  and who sent the tweet.  I have tried to group these resources into categories so that you can quickly go through and find ones that may be helpful to you.

Here are a collections of resources that caught my attention this past week on Twitter:

General Sites:

ConceptBoard – @addthis  Conceptboard – Realtime Teamwork & Collaboration Software

    • Create interactive whiteboards that can be shared

Moodle –  @moodlenews: 47 Interesting Ways to Use #Moodle in the Classroom (started by @TomBarrett)

    •  A google presentation that lists different ways you can use moodle in the classroom.

 Language Arts

 The LightingBug –   @TCEA: Lightning Bug is a writing resource website with interactive elements for tween and teen writers.


SumDog – @briandvorak: Classrooms can enter the Sumdog contest: Sumdog – Free math games #edtech #math

    • Math Games – can hold class competitions and play against players in other areas.
    • Teachers can register for accounts and upload students.   Basic skills are covered, but might be appropriate for intervention classes

Social Studies

iCivics.Org – @PBSLrnMedia: New Free Online Game Lets Students Run a County #edtech

This website has free online games for students to learn how to:

    • run a county government
    • control the budget of the federal government
    • be president for four years
    • run a law firm that specialized in constitutional law firm
    • Be part of a supreme court decision

An account does need an email, but I was able to use the +1 trick with gmail.

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Wallwisher in the Classroom

I started to title this blog post – A New Way to Brainstorm – but then I realized that Wall Wisher offers so much more than that.

Wallwisher is a free internet application that allows you to build a wall that then you or you and others can post notes on.   To build a wall you will need to log in with an email account but an email account is not needed to post notes on that wall.  Good news for those of us working with students under the age of 14.    Privacy levels can be set for each wall and posts can be moderated.

Once a wall is built there are a number of ways to distribute or share your wall.  Walls can be embedded into a webpage, blog or wiki.  You can link directly to the wall for users to go straight there.  It also provides an RSS feed so walls can be monitored through your RSS readers, such as iGoogle.

As I started looking for how others were using this tool I found the ideas fit into a few categories.  (This was easy to do as I took the ideas that were posted on the wall and started moving them around to create the groups!)

  • Brainstorming/ Idea Gathering
  • Homepages – a place to gather resources, post announcements, leave messages, provide homework help, etc.
  • Skill building – note-taking, vocabulary, sorting and summarization work wonderfully on this.
  • Portfolios of Student Work – either as a class or an individual.

I created a wall with all the ideas of classroom use I have found by searching the web and have embedded the wall below.  Please feel free to add to it!

Get Started:

The best way to learn to use this tool is to jump in and get started!

Go to my wallwisher sandbox and make your first post:

Or go to: – log in and build your first wall.

Please share your ideas for wallwisher or the walls you build!

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Avatars – Your Virtual Self

Creating avatars in education can help get the creative juices flowing and create safe images to post of the students online.    Here is a list of ideas for using avatars in classrooms:

  • Create book trailers with the avatars representing the characters
  • Teachers can put their avatar in their powerpoints to get the kids attention.
  • Create a new character and create a story about it. (Great for the Build Your Wild Self website)
  • Write instructions on how to create a character – swap descriptions to see if they can recreate it
  • recreate characters from the novel.  What do you picture that they look like.
  • All about Mii poems with picture of the avatar attached
  • Use the avatar to represent the student online.
  • Put the avatars in famous places and points in history.  Have student write about the place and or event from a first person point of view.

Here are three kid-safe resources for creating avatars:

Mii Avatars

If you are a Wii user you have created a Mii before, the avatar that represents you in playing the games.  There is online option to create Miis that can be saved as jpgs or png files. Export the avatar as a transparent png file and put yourself in famous places. by placing the Mii on top of a photograph.  I’ve used PowerPoint for this since you can group the two images and then save the group as a picture file.

Create your own Mii –

Directions to create famous Miis:

Lego Avatars:

Lego AvatarMini-Mizer

Allows users to create a Lego Avatar complete with accessories custom and backgrounds.  To save the creation you have to do a Print Screen and then paste into another application like PowerPoint to crop the image and save it as an image file.

Become an Animal

Build Your Wild Self – Start off designing yourself as a human then you can add animal parts and set a background.  Final Products can be printed with information about the creature you created and a name for your creature.  Another option is to save a version as a desktop backgrounds.  You can right click on the print version and save the image as well as doing the print screen option as with the Lego character.

This was really my favorite one as the art work is beautiful and the ties into science are amazing.  One idea:  Have students create a creature for their habitat and explain how that creature lives.


I’ll be adding to my avatar resources at:

Any other ideas for using avatars in class?

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Recently this web site was sent out through my PLN (personal learning network).  It was given as a suggestion for using technology to teach poetry.

Basically the website has photos and users can drag and drop words from their gallery onto the picture, or they can write free style.  Here is my first attempt:

PicLit from

See the full PicLit at

I then started digging around and found it also offer lessons plans on how teachers can use this site to teach grammar, figurative language and poetry.  Those resources caught my eye and made me want to share this sight with the teachers on campus.

Other ideas? I asked around and got some responses from our Literacy Coach and started this list:

  • poetry
  • Bernabei’s Truisms
  • character traits
  • motivation resources
  • Anything!

Here are some recent blogs written about using Pic-Lits in the classroom:

So how could you use this resource in your classroom?  Please share anything you create or have your kids create so we can learn together!

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Blogging in Literature

Teachers struggle with getting non-writers writing and non-readers reading.  But why should those students practice a skill they struggle with?  Why will another book and another essay help when so far it has not made a difference?  We know that more practice helps, and that you can’t improve unless you work at it, but sometimes we have to approach kids and assignments from a different point of view.  We need to find out what they are doing and see if we can make that a hook into their learning.  Blogging and online communication is one of those hooks.

What does blogging do for your students:

  • Provides a real world situation for kids – authentic learning.  They are no longer writing just for you, but for the world.
  • “Research has long shown that students write more, write in greater detail, and take greater care with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, when they are writing to an authentic audience over the Internet.” ~ David Warlick
  • Encourages reflective writing – Something about seeing your work online and knowing that everyone can see and read it causes you to think harder about what you want to say.  Reading comments about that writing can spark new thoughts and new ideas that would not have been there otherwise.
  • Blogs are a great equalizer.  Student’s opinions and voices can be heard they same way adult voice can be heard giving weight and value to the thoughts and opinions being expressed.
  • Parents can access the student writing at a moment’s notice and see the progress their student’s are or are not making.
  • Student get feedback on their writing from more than just the teacher or a peer reviewer.

What are some ideas for using Blogs in Language Arts classes:

  • Literature Circles – students can answer questions about a book the class is reading and provide insight on plot and character developments
  • Original Writing – students could keep their own blogs and record their writing throughout the year.  At certain points the students would have easy access to look back over how their writing has developed over time.
  • Reflective Writing – Students could reflect on class topics, lectures, novels, or discussions.
  • The student that never contributes due to shyness or not wanting to look “smart” can now contribute without having to speak in front of the class.

Examples of Blogs in Language Arts:

Grading Blogs:

So how do you assess what students do on a blog?

Here is one teacher’s solution:

My solution was to design a blogging rubric that would enable me to attach a grade to something I previously had had only a gut feeling about. I assigned excellent, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory to

  • How well students’ blogs integrated the concepts and principles from class discussions and activities;
  • How effectively students’ writing conveyed their understanding of the content
  • Students’ use of higher-level thinking (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) in their blogging; and
  • How well students’ blogging entries demonstrated a personal connection with the topic and applied course readings.

Taken from” “Log on to a Blog” –

So are you willing to give it a try?  Do you have any other ideas for using blogs in your classroom?

Word of Caution: When having student’s publish online, you must remember at all times to be safe!  Using full names, posting emails, or giving out personal information must be off limits at all times.  For more information about thinking through these issues, please see:

and talk to your campus technologist to make sure you have thought through everything!

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